Many tough choices are going to be made at Kauffman Stadium over the next few months. Lorenzo Cain is the next one we’ll make here for the KC Royals.
Name: Lorenzo Cain
Agent: Joshua Kusnick
Career Numbers: .287/.339/.414 (.753 OPS), 43 home runs, 277 RBI, 107 steals, 128 doubles, 321 runs scored, 105 OPS+/105 wRC+/.127 ISO power, 23.4 WAR
Importance: Starting centerfielder and 3-hole hitter
History of Success
He’s been such an institution around these parts for so long that it’s difficult to remember that Lorenzo Cain’s journey to big-league success started with the Milwaukee Brewers.
Oh, but what a thrilling Sliding Doors theory we might have but for that fateful December day that sent Zack Greinke to Milwaukee for Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress and Jake Odorizzi; without that trade, there’s no chance the KC Royals have two pennants and a World Series this decade. And it’s hard to see Cain becoming a mild cult figure anywhere outside of Kansas City.
Cain’s success lies so much in advanced metrics—it’s easy to look at him and see an upper-.280s hitter with just a smidgen of pop and the inability to play a full season without missing three weeks. Since Cain’s only made one All-Star team and can’t seem to stay healthy, should the KC Royals brass bet on that to get better going forward?
The argument for is pretty easy: since Cain nailed down the everyday centerfield role in 2013, he’s been at least a 3.0 WAR player each year and certainly earned his shortlist MVP status during the 2015 campaign. He doesn’t strike out, he’s consistently on base and will make the occasional jaw-dropping play in centerfield that serves as a reminder that centerfielders don’t necessarily have the wheels come off in their mid-30s.
The argument against is also pretty easy: aside from hitting at a fairly successful clip for most of his career, Lorenzo Cain does nothing to stand out in a traditional sense. He’s Angel Pagan on his best day. And pretty much any extension is going to put him on the wrong side of 35 years old at its conclusion.